The Slayer: Homecoming
'Ullo again, Peloquin once more, with the almost last part in the story of the werecat Megan Parker, aka Bast, aka the Slayer...the story is set more than a hundred years into the future, a future where a still young Megan is visitting her home town to attend her parents funeral, and to clean out the undead gathering there for some reason...
And the reason might be more than she or anyone can handle...
Peace! (again) Peloquin
"Sometimes it's better to light a flamethrower than to curse the dark."
Terry Pratchett, "Men At Arms"
She stared out the maglev train window. Junction. She could hardly believe she was going back to Junction. Her parents had died only last week, at the old ages of 145 and 135. Modern drugs could do miracles, they said. She wouldnt know. She never visited hospitals anymore. It would be a little hard to explain being a hundred year old woman with the body and looks of someone barely thirty. (Oh, well, doctor, its like this, Im a werecat, so I dont age at the same rate as normal humans...) She wouldnt even begin aging until in her late hundreds, at least thats what the others said.
Junction had grown since last. When she left it, at only sixteen years old (having just massacred a coven of new England vampires hellbent on destroying the world) it had been just a small college town in California. Now it was a part of the ever growing West Coast City, the remains of Los Angeles, San Francisco and The rest of California and Nevada. Where once the highest building had been the church tower, earthquake-secured skyscrapers towered above the ground.
What really gave her a guilty conscience was the fact that she wasnt just here for her parents funeral. The last five years, the remaining vampires of the world had started vanishing from their resting places and hunting grounds, without a single trace to where they had gone. Now she knew. So what was so damn special about Junction? And why were they all gathering there, usually one could hardly get ten vampires to agree to a single purpose, they always made her job easier by their petty bickering and infighting, but now just about all of them had gone to the same place, at the same time, and with the same purpose. Weird.
She picked up the letter Onyx sent her, his elegant handwriting telling her to be careful, but little else. No wonder. these days the werecheetah held control over half of West Africa, the local werelions had fought him heavily, but lost. They depended too much on numbers and muscle, whereas Onyx and herself tended to rely on wits and cunning. For a moment she wondered if he knew what was going on, he was more secretive than a clam, but no, he would have told her if he knew anything out of the ordinary.
She stared into the retinal scanner, hearing the beep as she was recognized as a paying customer. The android retracted his scanner and exitted. Androids. Replicants. They said the world had become an Utopia, noone needed to work, or starve, or anything. She thought it was boring. Every single natural disaster was stopped by the Protector Teams, those blonde women with the strength of gods, and noone died of unnatural causes. And the third world was no longer poor and exploited, in fact, some African and South American countries held more financial power than the US these days. A Brave New World, eh? Boring New World...
The train pulled up at the station, stopping with no more than a silent thump, and she stepped out. So this was Junction, eh? It sure was different...
The house had been built during the Civil War, after specifications that bewildered the local architects. It wasnt that the house was ugly, far from it, it was just that the house had some very odd features, such as being bigger underground than above, and having no windows whatsoever. Of course, this was all because the builders were no longer human, or even alive.
A pale man looking to be in his late teens hurried down the halls. He had shoulderlength blonde hair, crystal blue eyes, and the sort of looks that cause girls to sigh. He didnt care. He preferred eating the girls these days. Dressed in the very height of fashion, he looked like a posterboy for Holo-GQ Magazine, and he carried himself with a graceful arrogance rarely found in people so young. Young? Well, considering he was more than four hundred years old, he was young compared to his masters. Finally he reached a large pair of oaken doors, quietly opening them, sneaking inside, clutching a small letter in his hand.
- Yesss? What iss it, Marcel?
The hissing voice issued from underneath the hood of a dark red robe, chilling him beyond his already deathly cold body.
- A message for you, mylady...
A gloved hand came out from under the robe, taking the letter. The envelope opened itself, and the letter inside jumped out, unfolding itself in front of his eyes. After a while, a soft noise came from under the hood. It took him a while to understand that his mistress was laughing.
- Sso the last dessscendant of the Masheiah village iss coming back, jusst in time for the Final Night, eh...well, we shall have to make her feel welcome...
Marcel tried smiling, but the experience of his mistress in good spirits was so uncanny, he only managed a nervous halfsmile.
- Where you goin miss?
She smiled at the cabdriver, a handsome young man all dressed in plain dark denim, with shortcropped black hair and shiny white teeth. It was odd to have a non-replicant working a job like this, but she supposed not all humans wanted to live without working for it.
- A hotel. Four stars, if possible.
He grinned at her, and suddenly the hovercab was airborne, soaring above the streets. He moved easily through the lunch hour traffic, avoiding near-collisions with hovertrucks, honking loudly at anyone who moved too slow. There was something...familiar about him. As if she should know who he was. But that would be crazy, the man was at least fifty years younger than her, and she hadnt been to Junction for even longer than that. Still...
- Whats your name?
he turned slightly.
- Michael Gulliver...like the guy in the book?
The name didnt ring any bells, so she supposed it was just her imagination running amoc.
The desk clerk at the Excelsior was Replicant, a clone of some famous person. She easily recognized him, appreciating the joke made by whoever ran the hotel. The Replicant was cloned off John Cleese, and dressed up like Basil Fawlty. She hoped he was more polite than the fictional character.
- Do you have a reservation?
She shook her head, just putting her thumb on the creditplate on the desk. He glanced at the information displayed on his screen, and was suddenly all cordiality himself.
- Ah, welcome, miss Parker...will the Presidential suite be allright? Excellent, bellboy!
A bellboy sauntered over, a Replicant of James Dean, his uniform slightly wrinkled. Soon she was all settled in what must be the largest hotel rooms she had ever held. She wondered if anyone would notice her name, registering with her old, true name was a bit dangerous, but she hoped noone would know it these days, or at least not associate it with a twentyfive years old woman looking like herself.
She allowed herself to fall down on the kingsize bed, sighing deeply. And sat up again.
- Damn, I forgot my workbag!
Michael Gulliver gave the large suitcase a curious look. How could anyone forget a whole suitcase? It wasnt as if you could drop it between the seats or anything. He easily picked the lock, taking a look inside.
- Oh, hell...
Neatly organized in the suitcase lay first a worn, chipped machete, tiny crosses engraved on its surface, a few dark brown stains marring the otherwise shiny blade. In long rolls, inside the lid, were dozens of wooden stakes, also engraved with crosses, and a bottle, the contents of which looked like ordinary water, except that it caught the light in a strange way. Underneath the machete was a large shotgun, of a new automatic model, one of those that could hold three different kinds of ammunition and fire on total automatic, like a machineshotgun or something. And several crucifixes, elegantly put on a long leather cord.
- What the fuck is this, Kolchak the nightstalker?
A hand grasped his shoulder, pushing him aside. The woman he had driven earlier closed the suitcase and gave him an odd look, grabbing it and starting to leave.
- Hey, what do you think youre doing, guns are illegal in West Coast...
She snarled at him, a move that gave him such a start he stumbled backwards before he could help himself, backing up against his car. Those teeth...
She swore inside her head, she hadnt meant to snarl at him. Wondering how to make him forget the whole deal, she thought about buying him off, but thought against it, anyone who worked for fun would not need money. Finally she settled for scaring him, crude, but efficient. But as she bore down on the young man, she noticed a tiny red dot on her arm. She threw herself on top of the young man, a mere split-second before a shot ricocheted off the ground behind where she had stood. She opened the suitcase, pulling out the shotgun, quickly putting in all three clips available. Switching it to incendiary, she leapt on top of the car, firing at the spot from where the sniper bullet had come. A second later a fireball erupted from the broken window, and a hideous shriek issued from inside.
A sharp pain in her side warned her of the other attackers, luckily the bullet had passed right through, healing quickly, it must be regular slugs they used. She switched to her special ammo, spraying the assaulting leeches with lethal gunfire. They smiled, before they started exploding, leaving messy puddles of red and black goo on the ground. Painting crosses on the bullets always worked. She looked around, quickly, making sure noone was coming their way, and checking for any further attackers. When she was absolutely sure they were safe, she quickly hit the man in his head, causing him to pass out, easily hoisted him on her shoulder, and jumped straight up on the roof of a nearby building. She had no idea what to do to the young man, but she couldnt have normals walking around knowing about her, at least not normals she didnt trust...
The underground cavern had been sealed for over a hundred years, only recently reopened by a minor earthquake, again giving the undead owners of the house access to the ancient tombs placed inside. Marcel always wondered what really would happen when the Elders came back. His mistress said it would be a new golden age for their kind, but he doubted it. These beings had slept for so long, for so many eons, and noone could know what they would be like, or even if they could be reawakened. But the Final Night was underway, so he supposed there was nothing he could do.
The mistress stopped in front of a huge stone tablet, the writing on the stone was strange and angular, and gave him the creeps. None save his mistress could read this anymore, the others had been killed during the past hundred years, mostly by those annoying vampire hunters, but some had been killed by their own kind, desperately wanting to carve a place for themselves for when the Elders returned.
- "Eyah shouweh thayoudh asthwah makh djeb thayed masah toh..." "In the Final Night, lest our line vanish, seek out the Pure One, and slay it, so that we may return unhindered..."
She swore silently, he couldnt make out what language she used, not that he really wanted to know, of course. The old vampiress was strange. Somehow, she was different from the other vampires, apart from being the oldest one still walking around. For one thing, she never removed her robes, or gloves, leaving even him wondering what she looked like. Still, he could have had a worse mistress, the one who had turned him into a vampire had been mad, and accidentally killed himself when he insisted on sitting on the roof and watching the sunrise. Idiot.
His mistress moved away from the old coverstone, walking over to the shapes placed in niches in the far wall. At first look, the seven figures seemed to be statues, of infinite beauty. But if you came closer, you saw that these were bodies, perfectly preserved for millennia, or rather...the Elders. Almost all were so beautiful it hurt, and were unusually tall, the shortest being seven feet tall, the tallest being nine feet in height. It was in front of this giant his mistress stopped, kneeling before it as if it was a god. He did the same, if only to humor his mistress.
- Great One, beloved, my sire...
She stood up, walking out of the cavern. Marcel stood there for a few minutes, looking at the ancient creatures standing there. Finally he shrugged, leaving the place.
Had he stayed, and moved closer, he would have seen how one by one, the beings opened their eyes.
Michael woke up. Boy, his head hurt...what had she hit him with, a sledgehammer? Weird dream, too. Something about staying "pure" or whatever...
- Morning. Hows your head? Im sorry about that, sometimes I dont know my own strength...
He looked up into the gorgeous, dark face of the woman...oh. Now he remembered. He was alone with some kind of homicidal maniac, who had slughtered a half a dozen people without batting an eyelash. He tried getting away from the woman, but she held him down easily, as if he was no stronger than an infant.
- Oh no you dont...stay down. Im not letting you go until Im sure that you cant shout my little secret all over this town...
Oh well. At least she was a goodlooking homicidal maniac.
Dawn came. Or rather, it didnt. Astronomers and scientists all over the world suddenly realized that the sun could no longer be seen. The stars went out, one by one, as a blanket of inkblack darkness covered the world, slowly but surely. In the tunnels beneath London, the last remnants of the Goblins hid as deep below as they could. In the Schwarzwald forests, mourning howls pierced the sudden silence, as the last werewolves started hiding in abandoned caves, underneath old oak trees, wherever they could. In Asia, the foxpeople hid in their dens, silently avoiding each others eyes. In Africa, the werecats of the savannahs raised their heads to the dark skies, and deep, thunderous roars resounded, causing even the animals to stop and listen. In the forests of ancient Cymru, also known as Wales, and in the deep jungles of the Amazon, the last woodelves nocked their bows with flint arrows, their tattooed bodies almost invisible against the lush greenery. In the Arctic, the high elves of the Winter Kings court started preparing magical portals to other worlds, preparing to leave forever. In an apartment in New York, a tall, redheaded goddess lay huddled on the floor in a foetal position, crying silently for the soon to be end.
Armageddon was here.
- Why is it so damn dark?
The woman smiled at him.
- Oh, its perfectly natural...
He dropped the blinds, sitting down on the huge couch, watching as the woman dressed in some kind of combat gear, stakes and grenades and guns placed a little all over her.
- Okay, that what is it?
- Just the end of the world...
The Protectors, usually stronger than anything on this world, felt their superhuman strength ebbing away, drained by some unnatural power. Even their leader, the one named Kara Zorel, finally stayed on the ground, not daring to fly when her ability to do so could vanish at any moment. The Aryons, surprised by this sudden event, tried to take over, but they soon found their powers were gone as well. And they could not reach their starships.
- The end of the world. Yeah, right.
She gave him a strange look, and pulled up the blinds again.
- Take a look outside. "The skies will be as ashes, the moon as blood..." does any of this ring any bells?
High in the sky, only the moon could still be seen. It was a dark iron red, as...blood. Finally, the whole thing started to penetrate his mind. He was going to die. The world was ending.
- Oh god...I have to call my parents...
- Why? Theyre going to die too. Unless anyone does something.
A broad grin splitting her face, sharp, feline teeth glinting in the red light from the moon, as she pushed the machete into its sheath with a clack.
- And Im anyone. You coming? Since youre going to die anyway, you might want to help out...
Marcel stood on the steps of the front door, looking at the sky. When they told him there would be a day when his kind could walk without being harmed by the sun, he hadnt exactly thought of it like this. For some reason he had imagined being able to walk in the sun. Not this pitch darkness, blacker than night.
Something behind him caused him to turn around. His mistress stood there, her robes thrown to the floor. She was dressed in a simple, white robe, made of a flimsy, see-through material, and even though he hadnt had a sexdrive for four centuries, he felt aroused, somehow. She was beautiful. Her long, blonde hair fell to her feet, in golden ringlets, her blue eyes almost piercing his heart, her perfect heartshaped face rapt with unearthly joy. Her body was athletic, yet voluptuous, and had a soft tanned tone, highly unusual, all vampires were pale from lack of sunshine. She was smiling, with a beatific expression on her face.
- They have returned.
Those three words should have made him glad, but for some reason, he felt cold inside, a feeling of unspeakable dread building slowly.
To be continued...